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A Valencia travel guide – baroque architecture, modern museums and seafront dining

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A Valencia city break reveals to visitors the 21st-century clash between Valencia’s Gothic heart, its new contemporary architecture and modern museums. You’ll also find fun family beaches and bohemian bars close to Valencia’s hotels, as well as traditional Spanish restaurants and late-night clubbing.

Old Town history

The Serrano Towers mark the 15th-century gateway into Valencia’s Old Town. Valencia Cathedral displays Gothic, Romanesque and baroque elements, and visitors can climb the 207 steps to the top of its 14th-century octogonal Micalet bell tower for views across the city. The Silk Exchange is one of Valencia’s emblematic Gothic attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its main hall supported bya forest of tall,twisted columns. History buffs can delve further on a Valencia city break at the City Museum, with exhibits exploring pre-Roman and Christian Valencia and housed in a grand 19th-century palace.

City of Arts

Hordes of visitors come to the City of Arts complex to see the giant curved, skeletal buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. Art lovers can lose themselves at the Museum of Fine Arts, home to works by local artists as well as paintings by Van Dyck, Velásquez and Goya. For something typically Valencian, take in the Fallero Museum’s papier-mâché caricatures, made for the city’s annual Las Fallas fiesta. 

Family fun

Families head for lively Arenas and Malvarrosa beacheswhere kids can paddle safely, sporty teens can take to the water on surfboards and dozens of restaurants line the promenade. For a quieter experience, slip southwards to lie on the white sand dunes of blue-flag El Saler beach, or tee off on the 18-hole golf course nearby. You’ll find more leisure space at the Turia Gardens that arch north of the city centre, with quiet gardens for picnics and adventure playgrounds where for young children can play. They’ll also like the L'Oceanogràfic marine park where they can see seals, walruses and dolphins and even have sleep-overs with the sharks. 

Seafront dining

Step out of your Valencia hotel to dine at on the Arenas beachside, where lively seafood restaurants spill onto the palm-lined promenade during the summer months. Bohemian Barrio del Carmen is a favourite for bar-hopping, tapas and live musicPaella is on sale everywhere, including its birthplace a few miles south of Valencia in Albufera. Some enjoy the typical horchata drink made from tiger nuts, water and sugar, while others prefer ‘Valencian water’, a refreshing mix of cava and orange juice.